DAWSONVILLE — Buford turned the ball over three times in the first half Friday, but the offense got going in the second half and the defense was stifling all night in a 42-10 victory over Dawson County.
“We did get off to a slow start,” Buford head coach Jess Simpson said. “The offense had been rolling all year and hadn’t missed a step yet. But tonight they showed some poise and when things went wrong the defense stood strong and the offense responded well.”
Buford’s first turnover came on its very first possession when Taylor Mitchell’s pass was picked off by Jackson Putnam and returned 27 yards to Buford’s 23-yard line. The defense was able to hold, however, and the Wolves drove 68 yards in eight plays on their next possession, which culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Joshua Thomas.
Dawson County was able to connect on a long pass on its next possession, but eventually punted and pinned the Wolves back on their own 5-yard line. From there miscues continued to pile up as Buford’s pitch fell to the turf and was recovered by Dawson County. The defense forced a 29-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
Buford (7-0,4-0) responded once again, this time with another eight-play drive that went 65 yards and resulted in a 6-yard touchdown run by Thomas for a 14-3 lead.
After the defense held tight once again, Tyler Winslow blocked a punt and Buford took over at the Dawson County 25-yard line. However, Mitchell’s attempt to go for the momentum changer backfired as his pass was picked off in the end zone on the next play by Chris Sayler.
Dawson County marched down the field and ran out the most of the clock before Korie Rogers intercepted Zack Buchan’s pass at the Buford 10-yard line to end the half.
Penalties were also a concern in the game as Buford committed eight infractions, two of which negated turnovers forced by the Wolves’ defense.
“Those hurt,” Simpson said. “To win games late in the year you can’t do things like that. But credit to our guys for responding the way they did.”
The Wolves didn’t take long to get going in the second half. Thomas Wilson took off down the left sideline for a 32-yard run which set up his 5-yard plunge on Buford’s first possession. Wilson finished the game with 77 yards and a TD on eight carries.
After the defense forced a quick three-and-out, the offense rolled 41 yards, ending with 4-yard touchdown by Donte’ Gordon. Buford did not throw a pass the entire second half, instead electing to keep the ball on the ground and pound away at the Dawson County defense.
Thomas continued to run well in the second half, recording his third and final touchdown on a 30-yard run and finishing the game with 108 yards on 11 carries. Gordon had four carries in the second half for 39 yards and two touchdowns.
Another key to Buford’s second half success was field possession. Buford’s first four possessions all started in Dawson County territory and each resulted in a touchdown.
“The field position was big,” Simpson said. “The defense kept being put in bad situations all night and they answered the call every time. I’m so impressed with the way they played.”
Dawson County scored on its final drive with a four yard pass to Keaton Toal from Zack Buchan, who finished the game 10 of 24 for 124 yards and the touchdown. It was the first time since Sept. 6 a team scored a touchdown against Buford.
BUFORD 42, DAWSON COUNTY 10
BUFORD 7 7 28 0
DAWSON COUNTY 0 3 0 7
BUFORD: Joshua Thomas 1 run ( Matthew Bonadies kick) 3:35
DAWSON COUNTY: Max Moudon 29 fg 9:29
BUFORD: Thomas 6 run (Bonadies kick) 6:18
BUFORD: Thomas Wilson 5 run (Bonadieos kick) 9:47
BUFORD: Donte’ Gordon 4 run (Bonadies kick) 3:52
BUFORD: Thomas 30 run (Bonadies kick) 2:12
BUFORD: Gordon 15 run (Bonadies kick) 1:59
DAWSON COUNTY: Keaton Toal 4 pass from Zack Buchan (Moudon kick) :49